Community Improvement, Capacity Building

Susila Dharma International Assoc., Inc.

Building with humanity

aka SDIA

Beltsville, MD


Susila Dharma International Association (SDIA) is a global community of partners working to give a hand up for humanity. Together we create opportunities for people to fulfil their potential in their local communities. SDIA works to achieve UN development goals through projects that address: Health and well being; Child development and education; Sustainable Livelihoods & Environmental protection. For 50 years, we have championed ordinary people’s ability to make a difference, ultimately changing the lives of millions of people.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Virginia Thomas

Main Address

4216 Howard Road Amani Center

Beltsville, MD 20705 USA


humanitarian service, capacity-building, health and well-being, children, youth and education, community development, sustainable livelihoods, environmental protection, food security, human-centered development,





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Management & Technical Assistance (S02)

Fund Raising and/or Fund Distribution (E12)

Fund Raising and/or Fund Distribution (Q12)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Social Media


Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

SDIA works in four areas to address multiple issues that are identified by our partners - grassroots organisations close to the problems that affect people the most. Here are some examples: Health: in some countries, health services are weak and illness can have a far greater impact than in wealthier nations. A lack of access to sanitation and clean-drinking water compounds the problem. Elsewhere, older people are isolated and others (eg HIV+ patients) can feel marginalised and unable to get the care they need. Education: school can be hard to access for some children and vocational training unavailable for adults; in societies around the world young children are not given the care or stimulation they need from a young age. Environment: poorer communities are more vulnerable to climate change, environmental destruction and the loss of endangered species. Livelihoods: sometimes earning a living conflicts with protecting nature or is impossible because of lack of skills and training.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Children, Youth and Education

Health and Wellbeing

Sustainable Livelihoods and Environment

Where we work

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

SDIA aims to accomplish the following in each of the fours areas we work in. Health and Wellbeing: reduce the rates of preventable and treatable illness, infections and mortality in vulnerable communities; build and operate health centers, provide training and support to health practitioners, and care for the elderly; provide communities with access to clean drinking water and improve sanitation; provide care for the dying and their families; provide care for marginalised populations such as those infected with HIV. Education & Youth: provide access to quality formal, informal and vocational education for thousands of children, youth, women and men every year; provide scholarships, help improve school infrastructure and build the capacity of teachers, trainers and institutions; help children get a good start in life leading to greater success in all they want to achieve. Sustainable Livelihoods: help communities develop the language, technical and management skills to feed their families, develop their enterprises and gain employment while living in harmony with the natural world; provide the tools and equipment necessary for these enterprises to thrive. Environment: work with the poorest communities, which are the most vulnerable to climate change and environmental destruction; help change practices and find alternative ways of growing food, ensuring access to safe water and protecting the environment - all of which leads to good stewardship of our planet.

SDIA works with projects in challenging environments to reduce illness and mortality, and improve quality of life. We help to build healthcare facilities, improve healthcare infrastructure, promote health education, and encourage community participation whenever possible. We believe that access to quality healthcare is a basic human right. Our initiatives: Build & operate healthcare clinics in highly under-served communities Deliver healthcare services to vulnerable groups such as pregnant mothers, babies, young children & the elderly Provide access to clean water and good-quality sanitation, thereby diminishing the spread of communicable diseases Encourage community participation in the healthcare process via fee-based 'health mutuals', which help to subsidize clinics SDIA provides education and skills training to people of all ages, enabling them to lead fulfilling, productive lives. Our efforts typically benefit under-served populations in poor and/or rural areas that lack access to quality education. While traditional classroom learning is a central component, we embrace a lifelong view of learning that begins at birth. Our initiatives: Educate new mothers regarding good nutrition, infant healthcare & stimulation Teach children & teens how to protect themselves against physical & emotional abuse Oversee vocational and daycare centers, primary schools, after-school programs and scholarship funds Provide people of all ages with quality job skills training Organize cultural & athletic activities that encourage healthy living, boost morale & improve coping skills SDIA is committed to providing people with the skills, knowledge and opportunities needed to support themselves and their communities. We help to mobilize communities to develop new or existing income streams in harmony with the natural environment. Our initiatives: Teach people the skills needed to develop new enterprises or gain employment Offer financial support, such as credits, to small businesses Facilitate mutually beneficial planning and cooperation between communities & local government agencies Promote food security by teaching people how to grow nutritious food for themselves & their communities SDIA often works with disadvantaged communities living in ecologically sensitive ecosystems. These rural populations often rely on traditional agricultural livelihoods that are vulnerable to extreme weather events, and environmental destruction. SDIA provides the guidance and assistance that these communities need in order to provide for themselves while still protecting the natural environment. Our initiatives: Encourage small home gardens to help people to achieve food independence & security Educate farmers regarding sustainable agriculture that respects traditional livelihoods while protecting the environment Champion organic growing practices Help find eco-friendly alternatives to chemical extraction & processing Provide emergency aid to communities affected by disasters.

SDIA's capabilities for achieving our goals and objectives are linked to a large international network, mobilised to help meet local challenges. Our capabilities for local identification of problems, challenges, actors and opportunities are strong and rooted in the communities served. Our member NGOs working at the grassroots level are the best placed to mobilise local actors to analyse priority problems and which actors are key to solving them. On the other hand, strong local actors often need support from international partners with specialised skills and resources to help them maximize their success. SDIA is able to bring volunteers, resources, and new skills to bear on behalf of local development.

Each SD initiative in the field of health, education, environment and livelihoods has its own objectives, as well as key, validated national and international measures in their respective fields. SDIA measures its progress in terms of the number and complexity of local initiatives that we are able to support, the extent to which we are able to mobilise needed skills, human and other resources to support local development processes, and the extent to which our interventions lead to enhanced participation and benefit for women, youth, children and any group that is deemed to be marginalised or disadvantaged within the local context.

SDIA has supported: - Hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged children and youth to get an education and improve their lives - More than a million people to access improved health and wellbeing services - The protection of around 75,000 hectares of endangered ecosystems - The protection of endangered species of flora and fauna and over 300 varieties of native seeds - Access to more sustainable livelihoods for X number of people We will continue to grow our network of mutual support to include more communities, ecosystems and individuals over the coming decade.

External Reviews


Susila Dharma International Assoc., Inc.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?